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5 Tech-Specific Ways Your General Liability Insurance Covers You

General Liability Insurance serves as a solid foundation for any business, protecting you against a lot of common liability issues, such as…

  • Third-party injuries and property damage.
  • Advertising injury.
  • Slander.
  • Third-party medical bills.

As useful as General Liability Insurance can be to insure IT business owners, it doesn’t fulfill all of your insurance needs. For example, it doesn’t offer protection for issues with your actual work (that job is handled by Professional Liability Insurance).

If you’re an IT contractor, a technology insurance policy like General Liability can really have your back. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how the “General” can protect you against accidents, injuries, and more.

1. Home Office Accident

If you’re like a lot of our customers, you may run your IT business from a home office. While the commute is tough to beat, working from home still leaves you open to risks as a business owner. Say, for example, you order a new office chair. When the delivery guy arrives, he slips and falls on the icy sidewalk you forgot to salt, breaking his arm.

Now, if he was delivering a new set of chairs for your dining room, his injuries and medical expenses would likely be covered under your homeowner’s insurance. But because he was there for your home business, your homeowner’s insurance probably won’t cover it – but your General Liability Insurance should.

“General Liability is great for any business, often it is going to be used more or less for slip-and-fall claims,” says Michael Carroll (@InsuringLawyer), president of .

2. IT Consulting Mishap

Even if you work primarily from home, sometimes an issue comes up that requires you to make an office call. While at a client’s office, you accidentally knock her laptop off the desk, breaking it in half.

Luckily, your General Liability Insurance should pay to replace the shattered laptop. But you’re on your own to repair your broken pride.

3. Copyright Infringement

Maybe you’re a software programmer. What if a particular piece of software you create for ABC Company is exactly the same fix XYZ Company needs? Since you wrote the code, you figure you can just use it for XYZ, too. Unfortunately, the owners of the two companies are doubles tennis partners, and when the owner of ABC found out you used the same software for XYZ, he threatens to sue you for copyright infringement.

You may be asking, “How can he do that? I’m the one who created the software. Doesn’t it belong to me?”

Nope.

Since ABC Company hired you to write the software, it’s considered a “work for hire.” That means ABC owns the copyright for the software, not you. Check out “Intellectual Property for Programmers: Works Made for Hire vs. Your Own Software” for more on this topic.

General Liability Insurance provides coverage for claims of infringement for:

  • Copyright.
  • Trademark.
  • Product design.
  • Packaging infringement.

So if the owner of ABC makes good on his threat, you should be protected from paying any court fees or settlement costs out of pocket.

4. Libel and Slander

Libel is the grownup version of the mean girl “burn book.” Instead of earning you a spot in the cool clique (or detention), when you trash talk someone as an IT business owner, it could lead to a potentially costly lawsuit.

“Let’s say you were talking to the sister of the owner of XYZ Company at a cocktail party, and you tell her, ‘I heard that they’re under indictment by the FBI, apparently they’ve been selling drugs or something really bad,’ that would be covered under General Liability,” Carroll says.

You can also run into trouble online. For example, if you got mad at a vendor and fired off a string of angry tweets blasting her business by name, she could sue you for libel. If it happens to you, check out Nolo.com’s article for more details on social media and online defamation law.

5. Co-working Kerfuffle

Many IT contractors and small-business owners enjoy the camaraderie and perks of working alongside other freelancers and solopreneurs at co-working spaces. But what happens if something goes wrong?

  • One of your co-working colleagues gets carried away bouncing on the office exercise ball, crashing into your desk and smashing your phone, tablet, and laptop.
  • Your phone apparently grows legs and walks away when you take a bathroom break.
  • You get a little too assertive with the office copier and damage it, realizing too late that just because “Office Space” is your favorite movie, that doesn’t mean you should act it out in real life.
  • You book a conference room for a client meeting. On their way into the conference room, your client trips over that stupid exercise ball and drops his laptop, breaking it.

Before you book your spot at that hot new co-working spot downtown, ask the owners whose insurance (yours or theirs) will cover any accidents, injuries, or thefts suffered by you or your clients when you are in the space.

At Biztech (@biztechhsv), a co-working space in Huntsville, AL, the entrepreneurs who rent space are covered under Biztech’s General Liability Insurance, but they have typically have their own coverage as well.

“As a tenant, I am ‘encouraged’ to have at least $1,000 in Property Insurance coverage in case of theft or damage to any equipment that you have in this shared space,” says Rob Boirun (@RobBoirun), CEO of digital marketing agency (@PopNetMedia). “One good thing about being in a co-working space is that I don’t have to have General Liability insurance since that is covered by the facility.”